I have decided it's time for a new bulid and I'm going to drop the extra money for an SSD this time. It will be used as the main boot drive and I will be running Win7 x64.
I don't want to run any risk with the new Sandforce controllers, so I have narrowed my selection choices down to the three drives listed in the topic title - the versions with capacities in the 120-128GB range. However, I can't seem to make up my mind on which to get. The prices of the three are all very close, with the 320 being very slightly cheaper and the m4 being the most expensive one, but it's a ~€15 gap, which isn't too significant to me considering the total cost of the drives.
At first I had decided on the Intel 320 120GB as Intel had the best reputation for reliability, but then I noticed that the C300 had better 4k random read speeds, which is considered an important metric. Finally, the m4 seems to be a good bit stronger than the Intel 320 in writes.
The SSD will be used in a new Sandy Bridge build, so SATA III will be available.
If your motherboard is SATA III (6Gb/s) capable, then you might as well go for a SATA III drive. That eliminates one of the three choices. The C300 is an "older drive" so you're left with the Crucial m4.
Thanks for all the links! I have already read most of those reviews and many others, yet I'm still in doubt.
The price difference between the C300 and the m4 is about €12 - not significant at all.
While the C300 might be an older drive, it actually has performance advantages over the Crucial m4.
As bit-tech notes:
More worrying is that the random read speed of the M4 is slower when dealing with single-queue depth and 64-queue depth reads than the C300 256GB. With only one operation to handle (single-queue depth), the M4 managed a random read speed of 22MB/sec rather than the 29MB/sec of the C300 256GB. With a queue depth of 64, the M4 managed a random read speed of 158MB/sec rather than the 216MB/sec of the C300.
These tests use 4KB files, the most commonly read and written size of file, so it was a shame to see the slower speeds from the newer drive. However, it's important to note that these speeds are still much faster than those of a hard disk; it's just that the differences between the two Crucial SSDs aren't as large as we'd hoped.
In ATTO, the M4 was again not entirely convincing against the C300 256GB. In the 4KB sequential read test, the M4 recorded a speed of 169MB/sec compared to the C300 256GB's 194MB/sec. The M4 only really displayed its superior read performance with larger 1MB sequential writes, where it produced read speeds of 430MB/sec compared to the C300 256GB's 368MB/sec.
However, the m4 does outperform the C300 in 4KB sequential writes, which are very common in consumer PC's, as the article notes.
Also, Techspot seems quite negative about the m4 in comparison to the C300.
Although we found the m4 to be considerably faster in our file transfer tests as Crucial fine-tuned top end sequential performance, that had little impact on our real-world application tests where the m4 was often slower than its predecessor. In fact, we should commend the C300 for its impressive showing, as it's still very fast by today's standards.
Ultimately, Crucial sacrificed low-end performance, which hurt multitasking, in favor of higher sequential transfer speeds in order to make the m4 appear faster.
On the other hand, the m4 appears to be nothing more than a rehashed version of the C300. While it looks faster on paper thanks to improved sequential performance, it's actually slower in real-world situations as far as we're concerned.
I also note that the failure rates of Crucial SSD's are a bit higher than Intel, which is another factor to consider.
I agree with Gene O. You will not notice the difference in performance. That's one of the problems with synthetic benchmarks and the authors who write the reviews. The benchmarks can be misleading because they are used to show differences in performance. The authors always fail to mention that a majority of the ssd's form a very very tight performance cluster. There was one notable exception where the author just happened to casually mention the real world difference between the top performer and the entry level ssd at the bottom of the list. It really got my attention. If the author had not mentioned it, then I would have been mislead by the benchmarks.
but the C300 still does a little better in that department.
Frankly, I don't think you would notice the difference and that is why I suggested the cheaper of the two.
Very interesting review. I had no idea that the 128GB m4 was faster than the 256GB version in random reads.
I suppose you're both right - the C300 and m4 and overall pretty close to each other and I should not notice any difference. The only thing I'm wondering is if a firmware update might enable greater performance gains on the m4? Is this typically the trend in the SSD market or are firmware updates usually only rolled out in order to fix serious errors?
If firmware updates aren't likely to change matters, I will simply get the cheapest drive which will most likely be the C300.